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Fishing Groups Donate To King Crab Research

Hatcheries Economics Education & academia +4 more

ALASKA, US - Commercial fishing groups in Alaska have donated $25,000 tosupport research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheriesand Ocean Sciences to grow king crab in hatcheries.

The research is aimed at learning whether it's feasible to use hatcheries to rebuild wild king crab stocks in places such as Kodiak Island and the Pribilof Islands.

The Alaska King Crab Research Rehabilitation and Biology (AKCRRAB) programme is using the funds to complete this year's efforts to raise red and blue king crab at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward, Alaska.

The juvenile crab will be used in research studies in Juneau, Kodiak, and Newport, Oregon. The Alaska Sea Grant College Programme at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences coordinates AKCRRAB, which is a partnership of university and federal researchers with Alaska coastal communities, fishermen, and the seafood industry.

"The industry funds are especially important as we complete efforts to raise the king crab born this past spring to the first juvenile stage," said David Christie, Director of Alaska Sea Grant.

The juvenile crab will be shipped to researchers studying crab habitat preferences, predator relationships and avoidance, and genetics.

The contributors are the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation (BSFRF), the Central Bering Sea Fishermen's Association (CBSFA), the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA), and the Groundfish Forum.

The contributing fishing companies may be eligible to use the Alaska Higher Education Tax Credit, an incentive programme that allows companies to take up to a five million dollar tax credit when they donate to the University of Alaska.

Steve Hughes, Executive Director of the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation, said private-public funding mechanisms are important to fishermen and the region's long-term interest in rebuilding king crab stocks.

"The Bering Sea crab catch-share programme has vested harvesters, processors, and crab communities in the long-term success of the crab resources off the coast of Alaska."

"It's because of this important relationship that we, as fishermen, help with research that has the potential to revitalise those crab fisheries that are presently not recovered."

Mr Hughes said that AKCRRAB research has significantly improved understanding of early life history of Bering Sea king crab stocks, and has "increased the stewardship commitment among the industry."